Introduction to Athens, Georgia
Athens, located in northeastern Georgia about an hour east of Atlanta, is the home of the University of Georgia and is the fourth-largest city in the state. Started as a trading settlement called Cedar Shoals in the 1700s, it was chosen in 1801 as the site of Georgia's first state college and renamed Athens after the city in Greece. Much of the city's economy and culture is based on the university. Today, Athens is home to more than 100,000 residents. It is one of the hippest small cities in America and one of the most progressive cities in the South.
Athens has arts and cultural options rivaling those in cities many times its size. Its thriving music scene produced legendary bands like the B-52's and REM; today's rising stars can be seen the 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre. AthFest presents more than a hundred bands on various stages over a weekend each June. Athens is also home to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a a 313-acre preserve associated with the University of Georgia, that has several flower and herb gardens and five miles of nature trails. The Georgia Art Museum, with 9,000 feet of gallery space, provides one of the greatest collections in the South, including an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance paintings.
Athens Sports and Leisure
Athens is a hotbed of college sports passion, with the Georgia Bulldogs a perennial powerhouse in a variety of sports. During football season, 80,000-seat Sanford Stadium is packed for every game. For pro sports action, Atlanta offers a team in every major league. Baseball's Atlanta Braves play at 50,000-seat Turner Field, which has a built-in Braves Hall of Fame. The 71,000-seat Georgia Dome, southwest of downtown Atlanta, is home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, as well as the annual SEC Championship and Peach Bowl. Philips Arena, situated just west of downtown Atlanta, hosts home games of the NBA's Hawks and the NHL's Thrashers. Atlanta Motor Speedway, located 30 miles south of downtown Atlanta, is one of the largest and oldest in the country. It hosts two NASCAR Busch and Nextel Cup races each year.
For recreation, Athens provides unlimited outdoor pursuits in Georgia's rolling Piedmont region, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sandy Creek Park provides 782 acres of recreational areas and a 260-acre lake. It's a perfect spot for swimming, boating, fishing, camping and hiking. Sandy Creek Nature Center offers five miles of trails and several varieties of wildlife. Oconee Forest Park offers 60 acres of natural beauty, with hiking trails, a 1.2-mile mountain bike trail and a 15-acre lake.
Athens at Night
With a lively arts scene and one of the youngest populations (median age is 25 years) in the country, Athens offers an interesting nightlife. Plenty of coffee houses, bars and clubs are scattered across the city.